French Literature

Andrea Frisch

in Renaissance and Reformation

ISBN: 9780195399301
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:
French Literature

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)
  • Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy


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The French Renaissance, which in literary studies is more or less taken to span the 16th century, is considered to be a privileged moment in the emergence of a vernacular poetic literature in France. Echoing cultural impulses previously articulated by Italian poets such as Dante and Petrarch, and drawing on the humanist movement of the quattrocento, French poets and scholars, supported by François I (r. 1515–1547), consolidated a program for the enrichment of French vernacular culture through revived study of the Ancients. At the same time, overt religious controversy colored the whole of the 16th century in France, from the Affaire des Placards of 1534, the same year François Rabelais published his second novel, Gargantua, to the bloody civil wars that spanned the reigns of five kings in the second half of the century, when Pierre de Ronsard published his Sonnets pour Hélène, Robert Garnier his tragedies, and Michel de Montaigne his Essais. These violent conflicts attenuated French involvement in overseas exploration and colonization in the period, and had a significant impact on France’s cultural relations with its European neighbors, as Protestants became a conduit for numerous French-to-English translations in the second half of the century.

Article.  11609 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945) ; Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

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